November dawns

Good afternoon :).

I say this with a smile because I, Monica Gates, have completed round two of midterms! Muhahaha! (Old trait from high school. You may ignore the cackling.)

After finishing up my math and chemistry tests on Wednesday and Thursday, I am (yet again) behind in everything else, but am pleased to be done studying! Studying can be an enjoyable activity (though I know several people would smack me for saying that) because it’s nice every once and a while to really get into a specific topic and teach yourself in depth. That’s why I’m excited about “reading period,” which is the week after classes end when Wellesley students’ time is singularly devoted to studying for finals. I think this is a marvelous idea, because otherwise the fun of studying is robbed of students, who know that every hour spent reexamining material is an hour lost for keeping up on other classwork. Ah well. That’s life. Things collide and it all hopefully works out in the end!

So while I was a bit grim for a while there (heh, didn’t do much for Halloween except lay in my bed and stare at calculus problems) now I am back to my cheerful self. Not that you would know too much about that, since this is a positive blog and I see no reason for griping that I’ll be done with only a week later. However, last week was not all work and no play! There were several bright spots for the week. Starting from last Sunday—here we go!

Sunday was mostly my day of work, but that night the swim team APMs (Athlete Mentor Program representatives; we have several upperclassmen on our team who participate in this) hosted a movie-watching night for all the first-years! As well as eating the ever classy “worms in dirt”(pudding, reeses, gummy worms; yum) we watched “Hocus Pocus,” which reminded me of my mission to watch every Disney movie made. Though I can’t say that I like the movies with actors better than the Disneys with penciled-in characters. The teenage temper tantrums thrown in “Hocus Pocus” were frankly humorous :).

Though I failed to bring a camera to the event, it was quite enjoyable and a good Hallows-eve treat. The swim team is super nice (and fun) for anyone who’s interested! All of my fellow first-years are unerringly friendly and the upperclassmen welcoming in all aspects. Actually, everyone on campus has been up to chatting with me and any fellow Wellesley student; I don’t know if I mentioned Hund’s Rule in the last post, but I’ll do so again if I did because I find it funny. You see, at breakfast there are a bunch of round tables to sit at. Like electrons, students sit alone at each table before doubling up (at opposite ends of the table.) You see the correspondence to Hund’s rule, which says that electrons occupy orbitals singly before doubling up with opposite charges :). When I feel up to it, I like to be the exception to the rule, and sit in the seat next to strangers if they are sitting alone. Like I mentioned in previous blogs, I find the one-to-one conversations often very informative and valuable. One girl I sat down with asked me if there was some psychology experiment going on, because for two meals in a row a stranger had sat down next to her. So I know I’m not the only one doing it ;).

Speaking of eating, yesterday after lab (no lab report, thank goodness; I spent nine hours on the last one) I ate dinner with fellow chemistry lab students Katherine, Livy, Audrey, Nevatha, and Professor Reisberg! We went to Bates, discussed the previously-mentioned Hund’s Rule (Livy mentioned that if she compared science and social patterns in high school she would have been labeled as a nerd. Professor Reisberg mentioned that being a nerd was much cooler nowadays. Regardless, if you haven’t figured out I’m a nerd we’re all in trouble.), food, previous travels, many other topics. I love small discussion groups, especially with a professor present. However, I heard that Professor Reisberg drove a group of other chemistry students out to dinner, so I still have some ingratiating to do! (Just kidding ;). Professor Reisberg is very good at being fair and not playing favorites; he’s genuinely interested in all of us.)

Back to Monday though. Early on last week the weather decided to get artsy; I trust you heard that we got snow. Now a lot of the snow has melted, so we have snowmen, green leaves, falling yellow leaves, frost, dew, and one very confused weather system. It would make a photographer very happy; one can actually capture all four seasons in a single shot, which I find astounding (and thus derives my label of “artsy”.) Further, I made a very huge discovery. I was walking around with my Wellesley peacoat (peacoats are a trend here), a warm cross-country hat, and cross-country lobster gloves wondering how anyone kept warm around here. My sports gear was obviously not stylish, but the V-neck peacoat thing was not working out for my neck. So I was looking around, and lo and behold, there are solutions to the cold problem! Instead of wearing a ski jacket (which I always wore at home, but my mom didn’t let me bring it to college), people wore the peacoats with scarves (so that’s what those are for) and little braided beret-hat things, and knee-high boots. Breakthough, guys; this is almost as important as the year when I realized that jeans were the solution to “what one did when one wasn’t wearing sweat pants” (that’d be 10th grade). Not that I’ll ever give up my sneakers or lobster gloves, but the scarf thing bears looking into!

Monday I also had my weekly singing lesson, after which I immediately went to my first accompanist meeting, when Professor Akahori accompanied my voice on the piano. This was exciting, because I got the same input from both teachers, and it somewhat makes sense now! I’m finding that singing is rather difficult to understand, because there’s a lot of confusion implicit in instructions like “sing through your stomach.”  However, I’m told from both that having a “sweet voice” indicates that I have a “youthful voice” indicating that I have a “little-girl voice” finally indicating that I need more breath support. I get breath support by expanding my rib cage, resisting with my lower abs, and singing with resonance (but not my head voice). On the other hand, I’m still a bit confused. But I’m told with practice I will find my sound (practice is the solution to everything. One mustn’t be surprised, but I always am :)).

Monday was also Halloween! I got an email from back home saying my sisters were being a Fork and Spoon (possibly Fork and Spoon Warriors. I’m told there was much duct-tape.) with a friend who was a Knife. I’m glad they’re amusing themselves, though I’m not sure how they pulled that one off. Then again, one year in middle school I decided to be an acorn. Kudos to my mother for all the work she’s done in making these costumes and carving the pumpkins and manning the candy bucket over the years! (My father likes to dress as Neo from the Matrix and come around with us, though he’s in Singapore this year.)

For my Halloween celebrations, we got candy in math class (unexpected! Professor Wang was hiding it in a frightening envelope that looked like a massive set of papers.) and other happy places, and apples and celebrations in swimming (bobbin’ in the diving well; oohh yeaaah.) I have to say, swimming was the best part of Halloween. We had a shortened practice, and we did relays (with clothes on, doggy-paddle, etc) and ate apples afterwards. It was awesome to actually be able to talk to the people I swim with every day; though we do talk at dinner, most of swimming is spent with your head in the water. And games are always fun, even if college games are a bit more like work than those I played on my old YMCA team (so many good times with the YMCA Southdale Sharks.)

In other swimming news, guess what tomorrow is? Our first real meet! Not that the other meet wasn’t a real meet (that was the intersquad an alumni meet) but this one’s against neighboring colleges! I am so excited. I’m also excited about learning what I get to swim this year, because on my high school team (and here) what I get to swim depends a lot on what event the team has strong swimmers in. So I might not end up swimming my best event, and rather fill in for an event that I’m fairly good at but this team doesn’t have a lot of depth in. So far, I’ve swum backstroke, butterfly, and free over the years. I’m hoping for some breaststroke (my high school team dominated in breaststroke, so there was no chance for middling me) but I’m excited for anything new! We got told tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

Also exciting about tomorrow is we do our first “secret psych”! I’ve never done been a secret psycher before, but I’ve been a froggy friend, secret sister, secret santa etc so I get the idea. Basically you are randomly assigned someone on the team, and you give them gifts (homemade preferably!) on meet days. I shan’t reveal who my psychee is (oh, but does that mean I don’t get to reveal the present either? Darn.) but I’m making her present tonight. It shall be fun!

Cranking back the clock to Tuesday; November 1st was the Tanner Conference! Unfortunately I can’t find a good link to its description online, but basically students here apply to talk about their (usually summer) internships and study abroad programs. I went to several, from investigative journalism to religion’s role in Middle Eastern courts, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. However, when I went early in the morning, there were more adults than students at the Science Center (where the presentations were held)! It’s hard to resist a day off to study (I too had midterms the next day), but I think it’s a good thing to go listen to these students who put a lot of hard work into a 20-minute presentation. Plus it’s good information that is useful for anyone wishing to do internships or study abroad! Happily, by the end of the day there were many students present, and even if one doesn’t want to come for the conferences, it’s worth coming just for the food. The cooking staff put a lot into Tanner; I only wish I was able to snatch more of the Indian food before it was gone!

A final note on Tanner: we have some talented people here at Wellesley. Not only are their interests incredibly diverse, but we have some absolutely marvelous speakers. I saw students who were so poised they sounded like my Writing professor, Professor Johnson, whose vocabulary exceed anyone’s I’ve ever heard. Further, the breadth and depth of independence that these students exhibited in their projects frightens me as well as excites me. Everyone at Tanner went out and engaged in something they were passionate in, usually by making up their project from scratch and venturing out into a foreign country with only a general plan in mind. I, who am used to the rather rigid academic structure I have lived with for years, was amazed at how these students were able to incorporate their interests into real world projects. It enthuses me about the people here and about what everyone can become.

Wednesday night also proved to be enjoyable. I work at the library during the nighttime, and on Wednesday there happened to be several upperclasswomen on shift. I was talking to Nicole about what my class plans were for next semester (we have to have a schedule—a real schedule, with times and everything—hammered out by the morning of the 10th.) and suddenly, along with two other members of the library community, I was launched into a class counseling session. I love learning about classes and about the school and people here, and it was fabulous to have such a conversation in the library. I often ask about class information from people in my classes, and I’ve already interrogated the swim team. However, each group of people has a different background and a different knowledge base, and it’s fascinating to hear about the differences between them. On Wednesday I also ended up talking to Professor A. about working in his lab next semester, which merged into talking about class choices as well. He too had a different set of experiences, one students often don’t get to access except through their faculty advisor (I’m talking to mine, Professor Sequiera, on Tuesday). I love talking about school, and I love talking to all these different people, especially since the people within each group, while united by a similar interest, all are completely individual and diverse as well.

Right now I’m saving choosing classes as special treat for myself. For something fun we’re doing at the library, we took the Myers-Brigg personality test (I’ve taken it several times) and I was looking at my profile again, which says I’m supposedly supposed to favor the theoretical (the future) over applications (the present). I’m not sure if that’s true overall, but it’s definitely true for choosing classes. Can you guess what personality type I am? My fellow swimmer Sabrina told me I’m the same in person as I am in writing. Either way, I find it enthralling (personality tests and choosing classes), so I’ll let you know what I pick next week once I’ve got a better idea.

And that’s all I’ve got time for today! I’m teaching Ika (another swimmer)’s swimming lesson today because she has to go to a doctor’s appointment. This means I absolutely cannot be late, so I must actually finish on time :). Thanks so much to Mel and Sabrina for the pictures; they are fantastic. Otherwise, please comment or ask questions; I’d love to hear from you!

Have a happy Friday!


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